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Indonesian book giant addresses online content piracy, IP lawyers respond

16 February 2024

Indonesian book giant addresses online content piracy, IP lawyers respond

Photo: Kompas Gramedia

Indonesia’s leading publishing conglomerate, Kompas Gramedia, is investigating how blockchain technology may be used to address the ongoing problem of online content piracy. Adi Ekatama, publishing director of the company’s Group of Retail & Publishing (GoRP) division, expressed hope that blockchain technology, specifically non-fungible tokens (NFTs), might be a key component in protecting intellectual property rights. He said in a statement: “NFTs can provide valuable proof of the authenticity of intellectual property.”

In Indonesia, piracy is defined under Law No. 28 of 2014 on Copyright as the illegal reproduction of works and/or related rights products and the widespread distribution of goods resulting from such reproduction to obtain economic benefits. To combat piracy, Indonesia has established legal measures, such as criminal complaints, civil claims and takedown requests, for authors and publishers to protect their works. 

Risti Wulansari, Partner, K&K Advocates, Jakarta

Risti Wulansari, a partner at K&K Advocates in Jakarta, noted that the above options are not mutually exclusive, as the author and/or publishers may pursue multiple measures simultaneously. For instance, the author may file a civil claim to the Indonesian Commercial Court while also sending a takedown request to the relevant platform selling pirated books.

According to Wulansari, monitoring the distribution of pirated books remains a significant challenge, especially in physical markets. For music, digital platforms like YouTube have implemented Content ID, a digital fingerprinting system Google developed to identify and manage copyrighted content, but no similar system exists for literary works. Authors or publishers can only rely on online alerts, such as Google Alert, or manual tracking to detect potential infringements.

Alternatively, they may attempt web crawling, although this method faces obstacles, including platform prohibitions and potential legal issues under Indonesian law, which lacks specific regulations governing web crawling. “However, it does not necessarily mean that web crawling is entirely unregulated under Indonesian law as its operation may be considered an infringement of copyright, unauthorized transfer of the electronic information, or illegal access of electronic system, all of which are prohibited under Indonesian law,” she said. 

Siti Adira Kania, Associate, K&K Advocates, Jakarta

Meanwhile, Siti Adira Kania, Wulansari’s colleague and an associate at the same firm, advised book companies to stay ahead in the fight against intellectual property infringement while fostering technological advancements in the industry. 

“Amongst the root causes of book piracy are the unwillingness of the reader to pay for the book price, unequal access to reading materials and the lack of enforcement actions,” she said. The widespread presence of online platforms also poses as a challenge, she added, including how publishers compete with marketplaces offering books at lower prices and outnumbering the official places where the book is available.

In response to this, Kania listed several strategies that book companies can use to prevent and minimize piracy:

  1. Conduct constant market surveys of places that sell books throughout Indonesia to look for potential infringement. The result of the market survey can be consolidated into a database to help the book companies in mapping the strategy to conduct enforcement actions.
  1. Enter into an agreement or memorandum of understanding with marketplaces to help detect books sold on its platform and take down the pirated books upon receipt of the copyright holders’ requests.
  1. Especially for e-books, book companies could also consider entering into an agreement with online e-book platforms to provide some e-books for free while bundling them with other paid services (e.g., exclusive signed copies and audiobooks). This will potentially allow readers to read the books without spending money, hopefully eliminating the need to turn to pirate sites.

She said: “On a more technical level, book companies providing e-books can also implement various encryption programs available for e-books to allow the file to be read-only by authorized users and/or provide a stamp of the buyer’s email address at the bottom of every single page of the downloaded document to discourage buyers from sharing or reselling the e-book as their credentials will become visible to everyone. The book companies and the e-book platforms can also agree on these measures as part of the agreement.”

- Excel V. Dyquiangco

Law firms